Subject: I have found a DVD that I think you would enjoy
Actors: Barber, Mahler, Vivaldi, Accentus
Directors: Laurence Equilbey, Andy Sommer
Genres: Indie & Art House, Music Video & Concerts, Musicals & Performing Arts
Fabulous Singing by Accentus. But Artsy Visuals Ruin It.
J Scott Morrison | Middlebury VT, USA | 04/03/2008
(3 out of 5 stars)
"I yield to no one in my admiration of the French choir Accentus and their marvelous director, Laurence Equilbey. And the singing on this DVD is simply wonderful. But I could not stomach the oh-so-arty visuals that accompany it. Whoever is responsible for them should be banished to outer darkness, largely because of the overuse of shallow focus closeups (and I mean CLOSEUPS: picture watching the disembodied mouth of a woman -- all you can see are the lips, flecked lipstick, the workings of tongue and teeth -- whose motions are not exactly synchronized with what one is hearing on the sound track). There is also a good deal of completely irrelevant scenery, shot mostly with soft focus or out of focus. What is the point of seeing a ship sailing across the screen while the choir is singing Wagner's 'Im Treibhaus' ('In the Greenhouse')? Why do we watch Mme Equilbey (at least I think it's Mme Equilbey) in silhouette drinking a cup of tea or coffee while looking out a window at a misty scene? Or a scene of her lying, fully clothed, on her bed? And speaking of mist, even the indoor scenes seem to have been shot through mist (or dry ice fumes -- I wonder how that effected the singers' throats). It's beautiful in a gauzy way, but irritating ultimately.
For those who haven't been dissuaded by the previous paragraph, I will at least list the musical contents of the DVD, all transcriptions (with added lyrics in most cases) of works not originally for choir and all sung with impressive artistry. The listing is not in order of their appearance on the DVD, but by composer.
Die zwei blauen Augen; Kein deutscher Himmel (words sung to the Adagietto from the Fifth Symphony); Scheiden und Meiden; Ich bin der Welt abhanden gekommen
La flûte enchantée; L'Indifferent; Le jardin féerique (from Ma mère l'oye); Pavane de la belle au bois dormant (from Ma mère l'oye); Soupir
Wagner: Im Treibhaus
Schubert: Grablied (from the Death and the Maiden Quartet); Nacht und Träume
Barber: Agnus Dei (from the Adagio for Strings)
Vivaldi: Winter (from The Four Seasons)
Debussy: Les angélus; Des pas sur le neige (from Preludes, Book I)
Prokofiev: Le champ de morts (from Alexander Nevsky)
Chopin: Lacrymosa (from Etude, Op. 10, No. 6)
Barber did his own choral transcription. The rest are by Clytus Gottwald, Gérard Pesson, Peter Cornelius, Franck Krawczyk, and Thierry Machuel. Full texts are provided in the glossy booklet.
Sound: Dolby 5.1 and Stereo; Format: 16:9; English subtitles; Region code: 9 (worldwide); DVD9; Time: 90 mins